General Business Etiquette in China

  • The Chinese are very precise. Do not be late to meetings.
  • It is customary to shake hands in China, but wait for your local counterpart to initiate.
  • Keep eye contact while conversing. Not keeping eye contact may lead to not being trusted.
  • The Chinese tend to do business with people they know and trust. It is important to have a formal introduction and establish trust before you start talking business.
  • Invest in long-term relationships; get to know your counterparts and make a personal connection.
  • Business systems are strictly based on hierarchy.
  • Address people by their title, accompanied by their last name. If they don’t have a formal title, use “Mr.” or “Mrs.”
  • A nod should not be construed as agreement! In most cases, a Chinese nod is only a sign that the other person is listening.
  • Do not use negation words directly. Instead of saying “no” say “I’ll think about it” or “maybe”.